Wednesday, 29 November, 2000

Drawbacks to Instant Communication

Instant communication has its drawbacks.  I've long had a love/hate relationship with the telephone because many people use it as a crutch:  rather than figure out something themselves, they pick up the phone and call me:  interrupting whatever it is that I'm working on, and wanting to waste my time with idle chatter as well.  I solved that problem by putting my phone on "Do Not Disturb," and checking my messages periodically.

The advent of Federal Express, Express Mail, Fax, and electronic mail makes things even worse.  For less than $20, you can send a printed document  to just about any place in the country and be reasonably sure that it'll be there the next morning.  Fax is instantaneous, as is electronic mail.  These are great conveniences, to be sure, but too many people use them as crutches.  Rather than planning their work, too many people wait until the last minute and then rush to the Federal Express office to get the final document on the plane for tomorrow delivery.  It's like they're college students pulling an all-nighter to finish a term paper.  I realize that Federal Express would  have a lot less business if this practice were to stop, but every other company in the country would save huge amounts of money.  I wonder if people would plan their work better if that $20 overnight deliver charge came out of their own pockets.